Apply Now
Open Sidebar

Mystery in the Studio…

January 11, 2023 | Nathan Johnson

A very

mysterious machine

appeared in the Drama area

about the time we started our light study…

The children were told nothing about the machine,

except that it was their job to figure it out.


And so the exploring began …

“It’s a machine!” — Claire

“It’s heavy” — Joseph

“It has buttons!” — Stella

“This part moves…” — Sebastian

“Why isn’t it turning on?” — Stella

“Maybe it needs batteries…” — Joseph

“It’s a machine but it does nothing!” — Jack

“It can’t do nothing, because machines do something.” — Ezra


“Look in the glass! It’s making light” 

“No, it’s reflecting light” 

“I can see the light inside!” 

“I see a rainbow!” 

“I see ME!!!”

“Look in this part! You can see my hand even though my hand is over here!”

“Because it’s shining a light on your hand”

“It’s not a light source, it’s a light reflector!”

“Maybe it’s both!


What kind of machine do you think this is?


“A generator!” — Joan

“It’s an old T.V.  …from Grampa times” — William

“It’s a fan?” — Charlie S.

“It’s a popcorn machine” — Karina

“It’s a paper copier” — Rodrigo

“It’s a typer” — Zac

“The little fan chops the lettuce! It’s a salad machine!” — Amelia


“This part turns a fan on!”

“This part comes up with you push this! ”

“When you turn this part, it this part goes higher and lower”

“This switch has a light on it!”

“This one has a ‘1’ and a ‘2’ on it…”

“This big red one one turns the fan on!”

“The lights don’t work!”


“We need to open it up to see why it’s broken…”

“It’s tight shut!”

“Maybe there’s a key?”

“Push that?”

“Pull that?”

“Squeeze that! Yes!!”

“Look inside!!!”

“I see the fan!”

“I see wires…”

“I see a mirror!!”

“I see the lightbulbs!!!”

“Test them again — yea, they don’t work.”

“We need new lightbulbs”

“The lights don’t work!”


“Mr. Baerrera got us new ones!”

“Does it work now?”

“Make sure it’s plugged in ….”

“The lights work!”


“The screen lights up!”

“The light shoots up into this thing!!”


“The Machine works!”

“We fixed it!!!”

“We’re amazing.”

“It’s a light machine!

“It’s a shadow machine”

“My hand looks like a heart!”

“My hand is eating your hand!”

“Why does it look so much bigger than yours?”

“Is this magic???”

And so our shadow play begins …

There is so much yet to discover with our …

Light Machine!

Nathan Johnson

Early Childhood & Lower School Visual Art Teacher

Nathan Johnson graduated in 2004 from Lenoir-Rhyne University with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts (focusing on Illustration, Art History, and Puppetry), Theatre, and Elementary Education, followed by further time in Europe studying Art, and in Nova Scotia working with adults with developmental differences.

Happily back at his Alma mater (MSS class of 1995) Nathan has passionately committed his career to preserving the dignity and wonder of childhood. As children are more and more burdened with technology and privilege, he believes that in order for children to learn and grow, they must be given freedom within structure, choices with guidance, allowed to play, struggle, get dirty, and above all, to be taught that they are a beloved child of God.

When not in the classroom, Nathan can be found kayaking, camping, hosting a game night, wandering around New York City, making friends with strangers, and spending time with his 11 nieces and nephews.

Related Stories

May 17, 2023

Flying High in the Studio

Learn More
November 16, 2022

We Are Impressionists

Learn More
October 19, 2022

Integrating the Arts into Every Day

Learn More